Facebook Updated Their News Feed Algorithm Again. And I Don’t Care.
On Jan. 21, Facebook announced they were making some changes to their algorithm that governs what is displayed on users’ News Feeds. Historically, EdgeRank caused Facebook page managers much angst and confusion as they attempted to decipher the logic behind it in order to optimize their posts. According to edgerank.net, Facebook’s algorithm is “like a credit rating: it's invisible, it's important, it's unique to each user, and no one other than Facebook knows exactly how it works.”
EdgeRank had earned such a reputation that perhaps that is part of the reason Facebook did away with the term “EdgeRank.” For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll just call it the News Feed algorithm.
Latest Change Affects Organic Reach of Page Posts
Since the dawn and demise of Edgerank last year, the News Feed algorithm was giving the best organic reach to status updates that contained only text. While it seemed counter-intuitive, posts without images, video or link previews were treated favorably by Facebook’s algorithm and given the most distribution. Facebook’s latest tweak to the algorithm, however, brings to an end this preferential treatment toward text-only posts.
Originally, Facebook had observed more shares and comments on plain text status updates between friends. So Facebook made sure the News Feed Algorithm prioritized those updates, ostensibly to make everyones’ Facebook experience better. But through some further analysis, Facebook noticed that plain text posts from company pages didn’t receive the same engagement as those between friends. In order to continue to attempt to show Facebook users the most engaging content, the algorithm will no longer rank company pages’ plain text posts higher than posts containing images, videos and link previews.
Implications for Pharma Facebook Pages
As a result of this change, Intouch Solutions has identified three immediate implications for managers of Facebook pages:
- Expect changes in the organic reach of different kinds of posts. According to Facebook, “Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates, but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.” Our social media team at Intouch Solutions is already seeing the effects of this News Feed algorithm course-correction across a number of pharma Facebook pages we manage. The reach of plain text posts is decreasing, while reach of the more visual posts is increasing.
- Modify text posts to use a “link share” for optimum reach. Pages that previously posted status updates including URLs like the one below will need to modify their approach.
For optimum reach, pages should now use a “link share,” which means including the link preview that appears when you paste a link into the post box.
- Consider including paid media within your Facebook mix. Over the last year and a half, with every tweak to the algorithm, Facebook pages have seen organic reach numbers decrease. Of the many pharma and healthcare-realted pages Intouch Solutions manages, only those running paid media have maintained engagement rates high enough to improve organic metrics. We continue to see blurring of the lines between paid and earned media; the extra reach garnered through paid media drives more organic engagement among fans. In our experience, strategic integration of paid media is the best way overall to boost the reach of a page’s content.
Don’t Hyper-focus on the Almighty Algorithm
Despite all the hype around how Facebook’s algorithm works, it’s important to remember Facebook is not a pure share-of-voice platform. Pharmaceutical companies create Facebook pages to support a variety of different business objectives, and each page represents a unique community with specific tastes and preferences.
Though this post is all about the News Feed algorithm, the takeaway here is actually to NOT focus on it. It’s easy to waste time trying to figure out how to game the system, but that’s not what’s best for your audience. Your community will tell you what content they prefer. Listen to you audience, monitor your analytics and remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
The success of your Facebook page isn’t all about reach, engagement, posts, or media. It’s about a balance between all of the elements, driven by a thoughtful focus on what’s right for YOUR audience.